TRU: there is still hope for ranching program

Funding application to NDIT for year two yet to be decided

Despite some Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) members disagreeing with funding the TRU program

Despite some Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) members disagreeing with funding the TRU program

Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Williams Lake Centre executive director Dr. Ray Sanders says there is still hope for the Sustainable Ranching Program to continue through its second year — if Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) supports its current funding application.

TRU needs funding for the curriculum development of year two, which allows the students to live on a ranch or farm – a crucial aspect to their learning process, Sanders explains.

“We are [asking for] the $60,000 needed to actually complete the curriculum … we have applied to [NDIT], and they haven’t turned us down yet, but they haven’t approved us either.

“This whole thing was started as a grass-roots movement [from local ranchers] who strongly support the program and will be very disappointed if the funding doesn’t come through.”

Also TRU’s regional executive, which includes the 100 Mile House campus, Sanders confirms there were issues with some of NDIT’s Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) members in that area who “did not agree” with its first-ever NDIT application for $60,000 for its ranching program and did not support it. (See the front page story in the Feb. 9 edition of the 100 Mile Free Press.)

However, he says the funding application can still be approved by the NDIT board, despite the local RAC’s refusal to support it.

Sanders adds he believes a presentation to the NDIT board will happen later in February to discuss this funding application, to demonstrate the importance of what the TRU campus in William Lake is trying to do.

“It’s for the work-based placements because this is very hands-on – it is an applied program out on the ranches, and we are $60,000 short to make sure that happens.

“All we are trying to do is support our local industry that is often overlooked and forgotten – and that is our cattle industry. We are just piecing together monies to make that happen. We are simply trying to finish it off and bring it the rest of the way home.”

TRU wants to further build its applied program that supports the local beef industry, not only with trained new workers, but also the ranchers who are coming back for updating on the latest, sustainable ranching methods, he explains.

Sanders notes the province provided $354,000 to start the program, and both the British Columbia Cattlemen’s Asscociation and the Cariboo Chilcotin Beetle Action Committee also contributed funding for its first year.

“I am very pleased with our support from government,” he says, adding this also includes the budgets it provides for both CCBAC and BCCA to approve and administer in the region, without which the ranching program “would not have happened.”

Sanders notes this additional grant is now needed to cover the curriculum and move ahead with the second year of its agriculture program, which is already underway.

While NDIT is also fed by provincial funds, in this case, TRU applied to the trust because it was determined to be “the best fit” for the grant they need.

“We want to diversify the economy and support those … that produce well. One of those is the agricultural industry, and there is not another ranching program in British Columbia.”

However, if the program does not get the curriculum funding it needs, he is unsure what will happen to the year two course, or its current students.

“I don’t know, and I’m extremely worried about that. I’m going to have to find the resources and I was really hopeful – since this seems to really fit the mission of the [NDIT] and what it’s all about – that this could finish out the development of that program.”